After being seated at a sushi restaurant in Japan, you may notice a few differences from your favorite location back home. There may be sushi offerings you have never seen, more sushi chefs than you are used to behind the counter, and a basket under your chair to hold a purse or messenger bag. One thing that may not be noticeable is the etiquette required to show respect to the chefs. Here are a few tips that will help you have a great experience.
No Dunking Pieces in the Soy Sauce Dish
When you dip your sushi into the soy sauce dish, make sure not to dunk or drench the whole piece. It is disrespectful to do so as the flavor of the fish can be overpowered by the soy sauce.
Keep Rice Out of the Soy Sauce Dish
In addition to not dunking pieces of sushi, keep the rice portion out of the soy sauce. The rice can absorb too much soy sauce causing the sushi to lose its intended taste. The best practice is to only dip the fish side of the sushi into a soy sauce dish.
Additional Wasabi is Not Necessary
Chefs may intentionally add wasabi under the piece of fish when making sushi. Their goal is to serve you the right flavor balance. You should sparingly need to add wasabi to a piece of sushi. You should never add wasabi to the soy sauce dish as it is seen as a sushi etiquette foul.
Hold Pieces of Sushi From the Side and Not From Above
When using chopsticks, you should grab the piece of sushi from the side. Holding the sushi around the rice prevents it from falling apart. It may take some practice to pick pieces up from the side and turning them over to dip the fish into a soy sauce dish.
Eat Pieces in One Bite
The correct sushi etiquette is to eat each piece in one bite. The rolls and pieces are generally served small enough to do so. If the piece is too big for one bite, try your best to eat in two bites to prevent the piece from falling apart.
Only Order What You Will Eat
It is impolite to waste food. Many times, chefs will not allow you to order additional pieces of sushi until you finish what was originally ordered. Show respect by not over ordering.
Thank Your Chef
If you had a great experience and meal, thank your chef before leaving. A phrase such as doumo arigatou gozaimasu (thank you very much) works well. You can practice the phrase by saying it as Doe-Mo, R-Ri-Ga-Tow, Go-Zai-Ma-Su.
Himawari Zushi Shintoshin
Photos taken during lunch